Inside The U: Vice Mayor Mena’s Boss Seeks To Build 50,000 Seat Stadium At Coral Gables Senior High

Over the weekend, Inside the U published an article where they state a source has informed them that Vice Mayor Michael Mena’s boss, John Ruiz, is seeking to fund a UM Football stadium at the site of Coral Gables Senior High School.

Ruiz and his partner, former Coral Gables Vice Mayor Frank C. Quesada, were involved in the controversial purchase of the surface parking lot at 350 Greco Avenue from the City of Coral Gables for $3.25 million.

Mena was forced to recuse himself following a Gables Insider article about the ownership group being his employers.

According to Inside the U, “the source says the Ruiz family already owns an acre lot across from Havana Harry’s restaurant, which is on Le Jeune Rd. in Coral Gables, and the vision for that lot is for it to be could be an eight-story garage for additional parking.”

This is in total contrast to the vision painted by the City to residents, where residents were told that this would be part of an office building where these parking spaces would be incorporated to the office building’s garage.

Coral Gables Senior High School

Inside the U adds, “the source says that Ruiz is currently exploring other locations to build a new Coral Gables High School before starting on the stadium project.”

However, sources at Miami-Dade County Public Schools said that the school district would never consider the sale of Coral Gables Senior High School, in which the district is currently embarked in a $43 million renovation project, which is set to be completed in 2024.

City of Coral Gables

Gables Insider reached out to the City asking if “John Ruiz or any of his representatives, including Vice Mayor Michael Mena and former Vice Mayor Frank Quesada, been in contact with anyone on staff regarding the purchase and construction of a stadium on the property of Coral Gables Senior High School?”

The City’s response was that “the City Manager and Mayor have not been approached regarding the stadium issue.”

Such a plan would require the sale of the property, along with City zoning changes and approvals of a stadium adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

Ruiz Confirms Plans

Ruiz confirmed his intentions on Twitter in the early hours of Monday morning. Ruiz wrote, “We will discuss details of UM Stadium. We will have special guests. The Ruiz Family intention is for any stadium end up being a win win for everyone including Coral Gables Senior High School. I have been donating to Coral Gables Senior High School for years. 100% behind CGSH!” (See Tweet). In separate tweets, he added that the stadium would be “Fully retractable like the Marlins Stadium.” His final tweet on this issue stated that, “we are open to other locations. We feel this location is ideal for many reasons. However, Coral Gables Senior High is home to many students, our firm commitment is that we will not affect any student or their families negatively.”

City Statement

Following Gables insider‘s publication of this article, the city of Coral Gables released the following statement: “No one at the City of Coral Gables has had any conversations with Mr. Ruiz, and we are NOT in favor of a stadium project. In addition, a stadium is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods, and Coral Gables Senior High School is a community institution which we value. This property belongs to Miami-Dade County Public Schools. This proposal is speculative and one we do not support.”


22 thoughts on “Inside The U: Vice Mayor Mena’s Boss Seeks To Build 50,000 Seat Stadium At Coral Gables Senior High

  1. Well that’s one way to get a new high school built. The current path doesn’t seem to be getting much done. Please don’t tell me one new classroom wing and a coat of paint is all the 75 year old campus is going to get? The front of that school used to be colorful and georgous. Now it looks like the entrance to a county jail.

  2. The brand new college football stadium would be much better than the current operation at Magic City Casino. Plus this site is as close to campus as the original Orange Bowl and that worked well. The goal should be to improve the area where the stadium is built not ruin Tropical Park or Coral Gables Senior High School and neighborhood.

  3. I love how people just keep saying to build it at Tropical Park. It would need to be voted on , you just can’t build something in the park without residents approval. They should build it in Coral Gables. Stop saying Tropical park, build it at UM.

  4. He’s got company, and everyone on his boat should also be questioned. You don’t do this alone you need accomplices. It seems to me that this is Ruiz stadium, not even UM.

  5. University of Miami can build their football stadium at Tropical Park that is 3.6 miles from the university (10 minute drive), offers 275 acres of land, provides multiple routes in multiple directions for comfortable traffic flow, and would preserve the appropriate scale of Coral Gables Senior High School in its quiet campus surrounded by residential neighborhoods. Tropical Park is operated by Miami-Dade County Parks & Recreation and this is where it makes logistical and financial sense for Ruiz & Company to take their football stadium.

  6. HELL NO! Coral Gables High School is an institution stay out of our neighborhood Mr Ruiz. Tropical Park seems to be a more logical location . It’s bad enough that we now have high rise buildings around Merrick that have changed our landscape ..imagine having a stadium? Gross.

  7. This is an outrageous proposition! I live a block and a half from CGHS, I have been here for 34 years. The school is a very good and responsible neighbor and has never been disruptive to the neighborhood. My husband graduated from UM and we have always supported the U and it’s football program, but a stadium in that location will destroy the neighborhood, the noise and the traffic congestion will be unbearable, plus I don’t believe for a minute that once built, the stadium will only be used for 6 games a year. We also have to take into account that the Village of Merrick property abuts the CGHS property and it will also suffer from the presence of a stadium there. When Hard Rock Stadium was built they promised the residents that the stadium would only be used for football games, and look where that promise went.
    The best location for a stadium is Tropical Park as others have mentioned.

  8. The idea of a UM football stadium on or near campus, which would host just six UM games a year, has come up before. The answer was NO before and is still NO. Can you imagine the disruption due to traffic and noise? It could also be used for other events like high school games and concerts, of course, but this would cause further traffic and noise.

  9. So sick of Mena. He works for his boss, not the citizens of Coral Gables. This guy needs to go. Second time this guy has tried to support the company he works for instead of our City. Enough!!!

  10. I am not at all clear why you felt it was appropriate to invoke Mena’s name in the headline to this story. This story is about Ruiz and maybe a mention that Mena works for him would be appropriate in the body of the article. You clearly have cast unfounded questions around the Vice Mayors ethics. I have questions about your magazines motives by making Mena a player in this story when in fact he is not involved one iota unless you have information that you have not disclosed.Do You?? PS I wish I had the money to throw away attempting to pursue this fruitless exercise to build a stadium on the CG High property.

  11. Tropical Park. There is no other better stadium-ready option. But the Canes need to get the hell out of Hard Rock Stadium…..!

  12. Accordingly, it is imperative that the City Commission rescind the sale of the Geco Avenue surface parking lot!
    Without the lot, parking cannnot be built.

  13. I’m already offering advance reservation VIP parking for patrons, at my house—Orange Bowl style.
    Seriously, the advantage to Ruiz of the CGHS site, aside from acreage, is that Ruiz/UM would not have to undergo strict Gables zoning requirements.
    Instead, a partnership with School Board would take advantage of School Board autonomous zoning. Think “UM/MDCPS Gables Football Academy” charter school, with a football stadium conveniently attached to it!

  14. Pretty cheeky for the guy, Ruiz, to take it upon himself to makes decisions – – any decision – – for the Miami-Dade County School Board and the County Commission, never mind that he began this whole, slightly smelly venture with clandestine support (if not more) from one of his Commission-tethered employees.

    This much is certain: any member of the Commission who indicates approval of, much less finally votes in favor of, the particularly-insulting political payoff/bribe, is out of office, quick! For openers.

    Still, it’s perversely comforting to see that business-life in Moral Gables goes on as usual. No es, hermanos?

  15. Other than Tropical Park which is a stone’s throw from the University campus, which has suitable room for parking, and is adjacent to an expressway, the only other area suitable for a stadium excluding the campus itself, would be the large triangular area next to West Laboratory School.

  16. Tropical Park would make perfect sense and the stadium could be used for numerous events including hosting high school football and soccer.

  17. What a terrible idea! Why can’t the UM continue to play at Hardrock? Why do we need another stadium that is only used a few times out of he year and will create a parking and traffic nightmare in Coral Gables along as all the tailgaters with their trash and noise. No thank you!

  18. The hubris of this person, not only to displace thousands of students but to embark on the wholesale wonton destruction of a leafy neighborhood solely for his own naming rights smacks of Neroesque levels of delusion. As a resident, and whose child went to CGSH— yes there are those residents who use public education in this City; the shock—“this location” is not “ideal for many reasons.” First, the massive disruption to an existing facility wherein the MDCSB has poured millions to attract residents. The relocation thereof to some non-existent yet to be determined site. Two, a stadium that will be used for limited home games and sit empty the rest of the year. Three, Traffic patterns would be severely impacted in adjacent state roads. Finally, the massive upheaval to an existing neighborhood. Beckham has tried for years and is backed by MLS and has met his Waterloo in his venture. The opposition by residents in the Gables to a stadium would be scorched earth, sans those who are on the payroll. This proposal is DOA.

    I have a counter proposal. Why not build the stadium next to Mr Ruiz’ 44 million dollar home? He could buy out 3-4 property owners and it would be waterfront to boot! Logically this makes more sense as it would impact a smaller number of people and not involve moving an existing iconic high school.

  19. It seems if Miami got away with repurposing a golf course into a soccer stadium complex this man must think why not in Coral Gables. He has not idea the amount of resident opposition that awaits him.

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